Nike Signs UFC Champion Jon Jones to Global Sponsorship Deal

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jon Jones is about to become the global face of mixed martial arts.

The UFC light heavyweight champion has signed a sweeping, worldwide sponsorship deal with sports apparel giant Nike, MMA Fighting has confirmed with multiple sources.

The two sides have agreed to a multi-year contract that will see Jones decked out in Nike gear for the foreseeable future. On Sept. 1, when he faces Dan Henderson at UFC 151, Jones will be rocking the famous "Swoosh."

As a part of the deal, Jones will be featured on worldwide Nike advertising and receive his own signature line, sources said. It is expected to be announced within a week.

When reached by phone, Jones' manager Malki Kawa declined comment while Jones did not immediately return a message left by MMA Fighting.

While a few international mixed martial artists including UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and popular Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama have inked deals with Nike subsidiaries in their respective countries, Jones' deal makes him the first to land a global pact.

The 25-year-old had previously publicly stated a goal of signing with the Oregon-based sports powerhouse. Jones and Kawa first visited the Nike campus in Beaverton in May before opening negotiations that resulted in the deal. Nike is the world's leading sports and shoe retailer, with a $43 billion market cap. In fiscal 2011, the company earned $20.9 billion in revenue.

In March 2011, Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history, winning the belt at age 23. Including that win, which came against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Jones defeated four consecutive former UFC champions, becoming the first man ever to accomplish that feat.

His fight with former two-division PRIDE champion Henderson takes place as the main event of UFC 151, and a win might give him the greatest five-fight stretch in MMA history. He is considered a heavy favorite to emerge victorious.

In his career, he is 16-1 overall, with his only loss coming via disqualification due to illegal elbows in a fight he had been in clear control of.

Jones' early domination has led some observers, including Rolling Stone Magazine, to wonder aloud if Jones would become the Michael Jordan of the sport, mixed martial arts' transcendent figure. With a global Nike deal in hand to match the one Jordan received early in his NBA career, Jones takes another step towards that level.

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